PEREVALSK, Ukraine – U.S. and Ukrainian officials last week celebrated the completion of two of eight humanitarian aid projects in the Ukraine where a bilateral partnership between U.S. European Command and the government there is improving the lives of Ukrainian citizens.
In Sevastopol, the officials joined together Wednesday to officially open a dental clinic for veterans and other senior citizens, and a Perevalsk Boarding School for Orphans and Children with Genetic Disabilities welcomed a new gymnasium when the same facility was on the verge of closure two years ago.
“I’m so happy, it’s much more space now … and I would like to thank you for such a comfortable and safe gym,” said Ivan, one of approximately 200 children who live in this school located near the Russian border. Many of these children are orphans or require constant medical treatment.
“After a health inspection, they wanted to close the school,” said the director Zinovienva Tamara Ivanovna at the facility’s ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday. The 51-year-old gym, which has never been repaired, was in disrepair and lacked toilets and any kind of changing area.
The Ukrainian government helped develop critical infrastructure for renovating the gym while EUCOM provided $420,000 for energy-efficient renovations and adding locker rooms. Additionally, a local construction firm, UkrBusinessTrade, was contracted to do the actual work on the gymnasium, which included new flooring, wall paneling, paint, doors, windows, basketball hoops and wall climbing bars, security bars, locker rooms, showers, and plumbing and rewiring of electrical components that were not within local standards.
Ukrainian children weren’t the only beneficiaries to the humanitarian work inaugurated this month. A Sevastopol Dental Clinic for Veterans and Disabled People will make dental care accessible to an estimated 2,500 elderly veterans (ages 70-90), blind people and wheelchair-bound people of all ages, making it the first and only dental facility with ramp access.
“We worked with U.S. AID to identify the project, and then once it started, it became a partnership as the local authorities did their best to complement it with their efforts -- buying the municipal buses adjusted for handicapped people and making a bus stop across the clinic,” said Lyudmyla Kyrylenko, humanitarian assistance program management assistant for EUCOM’s Bilateral Affairs Office in the Ukraine.
The local government has played prominently in this project, providing a subsidy for new equipment and buying three new specialized buses to transport people with disabilities to a planned bus stop next to the clinic. EUCOM invested $95,000 in facility improvements, which included renovating the reception area in addition to treatment rooms. The 13-person staff is also expected to increase to 25 now that the improved facilities will allow them to see more patients.
The United States attaches great importance to the success of Ukraine's transition to a democratic state with a flourishing market economy, and U.S. policy remains centered on realizing and strengthening a democratic, prosperous, and secure Ukraine more closely integrated into Europe and Euro-Atlantic structures. U.S. assistance to Ukraine is targeted to promote political, security, and economic reform and to address urgent social and humanitarian needs.
"These two projects serve as a perfect example of how EUCOM plays a key role in helping the Ukraine develop critical infrastructure that elevates the civilian populace's living conditions so that the nation’s capacity as a whole can be strengthened," said Rear Adm. William Brown, EUCOM director of logistics. "For young Eastern European nations, their proactive steps to partner in building infrastructure shows their commitment to maintaining self-sustaining capability."
EUCOM’s humanitarian assistance program is currently active in 17 European countries, helping to improve living conditions and increase partner nations’ civil sector capabilities. Projects often include installations of water sanitation systems, renovations of schools and hospitals, and upgrades to medical and emergency services equipment.